Syria

Chuck Todd Asks Joe Biden: Why Is There Not a No-Fly Zone Over Aleppo?

|

NBC News

In an interview with Vice President Joe Biden on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd continued the tradition of journalists shamelessly asking questions that incorporate their own worldviews and political preferences into the questions themselves.

"Why is there not a no-fly zone over Aleppo?" Todd asked in an exasperated tone of the situation in Syria. There's a long answer to that and a short one. The long one involves, among other things, the misconceptions people have about the effectiveness of no-fly zones, the lack of a clear strategic U.S. interest, disagreement about the facts on the ground in Syria and the difficulty of imposing a no-fly zone there specifically. The short answer is Russia operates in Syria, increasing the risk of conflict escalation significantly.

Much of the media and political class, however, worked up into a frenzy over Donald Trump and his supposed connections with Russia and Russia's alleged attempts to interfere in the U.S. election, have chosen to ignore Russia as a complicating factor in Syria. When Hillary Clinton callously suggested a no-fly zone, which she had previously admitted would inevitably lead to civilian casualties, could be used to create leverage that could force Russia to the negotiating table over Syria, no one asked her what the purpose of forcing Russia to the negotiating table would be.

The U.S. government's only clear goal in Syria is the removal of Bashar Assad. While President Obama acknowledged failing to plan for the aftermath of the intervention in Libya was the greatest mistake of his presidency, no one seems particularly concerned that Clinton (who was secretary of state during the Libya war) has not explained what the plan for a post-Assad Syria is. That so-called moderate rebels are in danger of joining extreme groups absent U.S. support suggests there are no substantive moderate forces in Syria, let alone ones the U.S. could with any kind of confidence support as a new Syrian government. Even if there were, the strategic benefits to the U.S. of toppling Assad are murky at best.

For his part, Biden responded to Todd's question by insisting the U.S. had to defeat ISIS first. "We could not do both." Biden also blamed Republicans for not giving the Obama administration the authority to use force in Syria. "All those Republicans talk about how tough they were," Biden insisted, blatantly tapping into the machismo conceits of U.S. interventionism, before revealing that those Republicans had a point. "They'd say, 'What happens, we send planes over there, they get shot down? We have to go in and get 'em'," Biden explained. "Well, yeah, we have to go in and get 'em."

Todd pressed on with the leading questions: "How does Syria not become the Rwanda of this administration? That you guys look back and wonder what if? What if? What if? What if?" The comparison itself is ridiculous and reveals a shallow understanding of the 1994 conflict in Rwanda, the current conflict in Syria, or both. "Rwanda was soluble," Biden insisted. "This is complicated."

Todd continued: "So we're not gonna regret not doing more in Aleppo?" Biden's response was that the administration regretted whenever anyone dies. "I regret that we're not doing something about, you know, genital mutilation in Africa. I regret there's still real problems in Afghanistan," Biden said, without explaining what he had in mind about what could or should be done in those areas. "But there has to be a sense of humility about what is able to be done at the time. And what we're doing is the right thing. Generating a consensus among the Arab countries as to what we should be doing in the region. And at the same time, going after ISIL [ISIS] to destroy it."

Trump and Clinton both broadly agree with the Obama administration's anti-ISIS strategy as summarized by Biden. Trump says he will be tougher but doesn't specify how (except to say he would not announce U.S. operations) while Clinton has also insisted on a no-fly zone and taking a more provocative stance vis a vis Russia, with which the Obama administration has tried to some degree to come to an understanding over Syria.

Watch the entire Todd-Biden interview here.

Advertisement

NEXT: 'Remember, it's illegal to possess' WikiLeaks Clinton emails, but 'it's different for the media,' says CNN's Chris Cuomo

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Biden responded to Todd’s question by insisting the U.S. had to defeat ISIS first. “We could not do both.””

    That seems to be true, I don’t see a practical way to fight against both sides, can anyone enlighten me?

    1. I don’t see a practical way to fight against both sides, can anyone enlighten me?

      Kill everyone, let God sort them out?

      1. Nation build and let the US be their proxy defense forces. Kinda like we did in Iraq and Afghanistan

  2. “Sneaky, fucking Russians.”

    1. Boris the bullet dodger?

      1. Fuck you!
        Blam!!!
        Fuck you
        Blam!!! BLam!!

        Fuucccckkkkyouuuu

    2. This made me smile.

  3. “Generating a consensus among the Arab countries as to what we should be doing in the region. And at the same time, going after ISIL [ISIS] to destroy it.”

    You can’t even get these guys to agree on what time lunch should take place without one or more them getting pissed over a supposed loss of face. What makes any of these people think that they’ll get them to agree on how to deal with ISIS–especially when two of the GCC countries have now been revealed to be funding their operations?

  4. “We don’t need a no-fly zone. We just need to step out on to the balcony with a double-barrelled shotgun and shoot it into the air.”

    1. Have we tried a hashtag yet? Get #NoFlyZone to trend — that’ll teach those bastards a lesson.

      1. #BringBackOurFlyZones

  5. Ed,
    There is no such thing as media bias.

    1. No one hated or distrusted the media before Trump, and his followers couldn’t possibly determine what lying cunts the media are all on their own or get particularly worked up at a time when they are behaving particularly shamelessly.

    2. Wow. I was wondering how long it would be before the newspaper of record ran a headline along the lines of, “Media Criticism Rooted in Extremism, Racism”

      Here’s a fun one:

      But most of the emails show reporters, including some at The Times, trying to: Get permission to use quotations from an off-the-record interview; run details in a coming story past political aides to make sure they are correct (called fact-checking), or alert Mr. Podesta that his name was to come up in a critical article (the opposite of which is to ambush). That’s standard interplay between reporters and political aides.

      So, FYI, the NYT considers asking a politician’s aides if something is true to be “fact-checking”, and believes that writing something critical of a politician without giving them adequate notice is “ambushing” them.

      1. Oooh, and this is good:

        Mr. Dreher lives in Louisiana and has worked at five major city newspapers across the country. He does not support Mr. Trump but says he understands why his supporters are so frustrated. As far as he’s concerned, mainstream journalists are “interested in every kind of diversity, except the kind that would challenge their own prejudices.” Those include, “bigotry against conservative religion, bigotry against rural folks and bigotry against working-class and poor white people.”

        It’s a pretty sweeping generalization. But a considerable percentage of the country believes it. An even larger percentage of Mr. Trump’s voters do.

        Translation: It’s a pretty sweeping generalization, but that’s the kind of thing you’d expect from those illiterate rednecks.

  6. Joe Biden says: “What’s aleppo?”

    1. Probably true but doesn’t comport with the Narrative.

    2. Except he didn’t.

  7. The best way to discredit the renewed hawkishness of the media is to splice up talk about Syria with their (late) criticisms of Iraq.

    1. Nah, nah, you got it all wrong, guy. It’ll be completely different this time.

    2. There were no humanitarian motives in Iraq you ninny. The feelz makes all the difference.

      1. BLUD FOR OILZ!!11!!!! BOOOOOSH LIED PPL DIED!!!1!!!!!!111!!!

  8. “No, that sprinkle you’re feeling is pure, refreshing rain! Why must you always question our motives?”

    1. Whoops, that was in response to bacon’s comment above.

  9. Btw, did Reason already post about Assange most likely being removed from the embassy and if the rumors are true being extradited to the US?

    1. Where’d you read that?

      1. Internet was cut at the embassy “by a state actor”. Shortly before that Wikileaks tweeted out a bunch of hashes and when people went down there to livestream vans belonging to security contractors were arriving at the embassy. They’re also evasive about the status of Assange.

        Suggests something bad has happend IMHO.

        1. It does seem fishy but there could be other explanations. We’ll find out soon enough I guess.

  10. “While President Obama acknowledged failing to plan for the aftermath of the intervention in Libya was the greatest mistake of his presidency”.

    I suspect some of us want Obama to admit that intervening in Libya was a mistake so bad that we imagine that’s what he actually said.

    Actually, Obama is saying that he’s sorry he didn’t invade Libya on the ground and leave U.S. troops behind for an indefinite period of time–like we did in Iraq.

    Obama is saying that failing to invade and occupy Libya was the worst mistake of his Presidency.

    Feel it. Know it. Live it.

    P.S. Barack Obama has killed more children than Adam Lanza.

    https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/ category/projects/drones/drones-graphs/

    Obama has killed more than 100 children in Pakistan alone.

    1. “the difficulty of imposing a no-fly zone there specifically”

      And to your point, imposing a no-fly zone there involves bombing the hell out of ground targets including air defense and airports in crowded urban areas. It is no small thing and will necessitate killing a lot of civilians in the process.

      1. Nothing but eggs for the omelet!

        1. Tough to make a No Fly Zone omelet when your flyboys are facing Russian made S-400 and S-23 air defense systems.

          1. Hillary can take those out. She’ll just call the same guys that set up her email server.

            1. You just unintentionally admitted that she’d be very effective in making the targets disappear.

              1. Well, she would be great at it because the media won’t bother to report all those civilian casualties. It will be a ‘pin point strike’, regardless of whether or not a few cultural centers and mosque’s were leveled with a few hundred people inside.

                Duh.

                Do you not remember the Iraq war death counter during the Bush Presidency that magically disappeared the moment Obama was elected? The media will roast a Republican president, as they should, when it comes to boneheaded wars with massive casualties and little reason to happen in the first place.

                A Democrat president might get an unfavorable news story every so often (remember Bill Clinton’s foray into Serbia? Probably not, if you only watched the news), but it’s clearly a different reporting standard depending on your party affiliation.

  11. The U.S. government’s only clear goal in Syria is the removal of Bashar Assad

    Are we out of drones? What’s the fucking holdup?

    1. They’re called S-300, S-400 and Pantsir S-1. Turns out using drones is only easy when your enemies live in mudhuts.

    2. There’s also Hezbollah and war with Iran to consider.

      Escalating proxy wars to the point that they’re being fought by the powers behind them isn’t necessarily an improvement.

  12. “When Hillary Clinton callously suggested a no-fly zone, which she had previously admitted would inevitably lead to civilian casualties, could be used to create leverage that could force Russia to the negotiating table over Syria”

    And Hillary is the unquestioned expert on Russia. I mean, did you see what she did with that reset button? She’s an expert!

  13. could be used to create leverage that could force Russia to the negotiating table over Syria, no one asked her what the purpose of forcing Russia to the negotiating table would be.

    Thank God I read the whole post before commenting. This is exactly what I was going to ask as I started reading the post. What is our fucking strategy here? We’re essentially in an alliance with Russia in that we’re both trying to stop ISIS from attacking the Assad administration’s (Syrian Regular Army) forces. But yet, we kind of sort of don’t want Assad in charge, or something. This is feckless foreign policy at its worst, but I have to hand it to Obama, he’s single-handedly proven that the American people don’t really care much about all that overseas intrigue stuff. ‘Cause this dude’s an unmitigated disaster on this front, and yet his approval rating is higher than ever. Wedding party blown to fragments? No problem. No idea who we’re shooting at? No problem. Collapse of the middle east in general? No problem. Closer to a shooting war with Russia than any time since… fuck… before Reagan? No problem. OMG TRUMP’S AWFUL AND A BIG MEANIE! Problem.

    1. Hillary is either using the Russians as her own version of the Red Scare in the hopes that the proles fall in line, or is actually of the opinion that ‘forcing’ Russia to do as we wish (even though we don’t really know what we want) in a region we give no shits about (at all) is solid policy.

      Honestly, I’m hoping this is just her being a manipulative bitch domestically instead of being an outright loony tune internationally. Given her track record though, I suspect it’s both.

      If ever she wanted to sell me on the idea that voting for Trump is a net positive, pissing in Russia’s direction is one of the few ways to do it unless she has incontrovertible proof. Yeah, I really don’t like Trump but I also have no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t go to war with Russia. He might go to war in a dozen other countries, but Russia?

      No offense, but I’d rather be at war with a dozen mud-holes than one nuclear capable superpower. Literally every modern President has agreed that this is the wise course of action, but then again they were all men. Perhaps it takes a woman to end the world?

  14. while Clinton has also insisted on a no-fly zone and taking a more provocative stance vis a vis Russia

    So Hillary continues to insist on creating the conditions for a no-bullshit war with Russia, but somehow millions of low-info media consumers are convinced that Trump with nukes is the real danger.

    The Dem establishment made up the whole “Russian hackers undermining our election” without a shred of evidence as a misdirection tactic. And yet I see it being repeated even by Fox News uncritically.

    If there’s one lesson from this whole election circus, it’s that the Big Lie works and can decide election outcomes. So expect to see more of it.

    Hell, just spend a few minutes on Wikileaks’ twitter. The constant barrage of lies, obfuscation, and manipulation is nauseating and insulting. But it’s what works.

    1. So Hillary continues to insist on creating the conditions for a no-bullshit war with Russia, but somehow millions of low-info media consumers are convinced that Trump with nukes is the real danger.

      to be fair, he is. Trump represents the chickens coming home to roost. Not for the Republicans, but for the Democrats. They’ve been cheering and maneuvering for bigger, more centralized and more powerful executives, and now when faced with someone like Trump at the levers to power, their bowels evacuate. I like to think of Trump as the doughnut in the movie Full Metal Jacket and the Democrats are Private Pile.

      1. I like to think of Trump as the doughnut in the movie Full Metal Jacket and the Democrats are Private Pile.

        What the fuck is that? WHAT IS THAT PRIVATE PYLE?!

  15. It’s really interesting to see the media forwarding policies that would lead to war to Russia. It’s sheer, unadulterated insanity. At least they’ve made plain to anyone who’s bothering to look that their vigorous opposition to Iraq II was all political bullshit because the President at the time had the wrong letter next to his name.

  16. What is our fucking strategy here?

    Strategy is for chumps. There are cans to be kicked.

    1. Shit-flinging and chest-beating don’t count as strategy?

  17. “When Hillary Clinton callously suggested a no-fly zone, which she had previously admitted would inevitably lead to civilian casualties, could be used to create leverage that could force Russia to the negotiating table over Syria, no one asked her what the purpose of forcing Russia to the negotiating table would be.”

    We shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees here, too.

    A no-fly zone would need to be voted on by the UN security council. That’s how it worked in Bosnia. That’s how it worked in Libya. Otherwise, under international law, if the U.S. shoots down a Russian plane in Syrian airspace, it’s an act of war.

    Meanwhile, there is no reason to think that Russia will vote for a UN security council resolution to restrict itself.

    It’s a non-starter. It’s a stupid suggestion. Hillary only said it for one of two reasons: 1) She has no idea what she’s talking about or 2) Her statement was about election year considerations.

    All five permanent members of the Security Council have veto power. Why wouldn’t Russia veto the imposition of a no-fly zone against itself? How is Hillary going to drive Russia to the negotiating table with a Security Council resolution that cannot ever happen?

    1. Hillary only said it for one of two reasons: 1) She has no idea what she’s talking about or 2) Her statement was about election year considerations.

      Could be both.

  18. The no-fly zone over the Kurds may not have been originally implemented with the Security Council approval, but that was imposed over territory that the United States had effectively conquered. If we want to invade and conquer Syria, then establishing a no-fly zone without the UN Security Council might be possible–but the whole point is supposed to be avoiding invading Syria.

    Moral of the story?

    Don’t take anything Hillary Clinton says too seriously right now. What comes out of her mouth is about getting elected. She thought saying that she would force the Russians to the negotiating table might make her sound Presidential to undecided voters. Her husband once executed a retarded guy to make himself seem tough on crime. That was more serious–it’s something he actually did. What Hillary said was just talk. Don’t take it seriously. What she was saying doesn’t make any sense to anybody who knows what they’re talking about–she was just blowing hot air.

  19. Gee, US planes shooting down Russian planes because of a ‘no-fly’ zone? Can’t see a problem there…

    Besides, it isn’t like there are good guys to support in that war.

  20. “””The U.S. government’s only clear goal in Syria is the removal of Bashar Assad. “””

    Yes, but no one says that directly anymore, because then the question is, “”well, why don’t you?”‘ because they’d be admitting they unilaterally decided to go to war.

    1. They’re still balancing their foreign policy on the incredibly thin reed of “helping the insurgency”. Ie, the South Vietnamese must win the war themselves.

      So shipping them brand new ARVN rifles that have never been fired and only dropped once is the fig leaf needed to go to war… or something.

  21. The MSM’s idea of “speaking truth to power” is “telling the Establishment that it has to push its retarded agenda even harder.”

  22. “” “Rwanda was soluble,” “

    Just add water?

  23. As a micro case-study in how retarded this admin is on its foreign policy views… I submit the fact that they still say “”ISIL”” as example that they are far more interested in ‘molding perceptions’ than they are in the things themselves

    1. Aren’t all the cool kids calling it “Daesh” now?

      1. Everyone in the Arab world does, and Kerry does so his quotes will make sense to foreign press…
        .. which is basically my point re Obama/ISIL -hes the only one who uses it, and the only reason I can tell that he’s still stuck w it is because he thought it sounded “less scary” , and that he could use his stubborn use of the term to force everyone else to play along.

        Theres a lot of stupidity, vanity, hubris tied up in the posture, which is why I think it makes a good case study

    2. They don’t want it confused with Isis, the short story/poem/song/whatever that Nobel winner Bob Dylan wrote in the 70s.

      1. Or the ISIS Organization that Archer worked for at one point. That would be awkward.

  24. RE: Chuck Todd Asks Joe Biden: Why Is There Not a No-Fly Zone Over Aleppo?

    Here’s a better question for Clueless Joe.
    Why don’t we pull out all troops out of the Middle East?

  25. I wonder who the Cindy Sheehan crowd is voting for…

  26. So the whole no-fly-zone bullshit is directly for the Assad regime yes? I mean Isis doesn’t have any air power do they? And yeah, with russia bringing in AA missiles they try the no fly shit and it’s going to be a fucking mess

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.